All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for July 2003

Invisible disabilities deserve same respect

Tue, Jul. 15, 2003
Gary Richards
The Mercury News

Q: Please do one more public-service announcement for readers who complain about seeing so many "healthy people" park in handicapped spots. Disabilities come in all sizes, shapes and models. Not every disabled person who is eligible for a placard has a visible handicap. There are lots of disabled folks who have no canes, no crutches, no wheelchairs, no limps and are not elderly or out of breath while rolling an oxygen tank behind them. Some have bona fide problems entitling them to park in a handicapped space. They should be able to do so without someone wanting a specific description of their disability. I have been bullied and threatened by big Neanderthal men when I have asked to have the disabled space vacated so I can park.

Linda Lee
San Jose

A: Today, Roadshow hears from those with valid permits about others chastising them for parking in a spot for disabled drivers.

Q: Appearances can be deceiving. People who are recovering from surgery or injuries, or who have arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, AIDS or lupus may have significant limits on distances they can walk. These people with ``invisible'' disabilities often have disabled parking privileges yet are harassed constantly for exercising their right to park in the disabled spaces. A person I know reports hearing yells to ``get a wheelchair'' as she left her car. A friend who has multiple sclerosis once returned to a nasty note instructing him to ``park legally'' in the future. The writer threatened to let the air out of the tires if he parked in a disabled space again.

K'Ailsa Rowan
San Jose

A: And ...

Q: I am 35 years old and have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since I was 26. I also have fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder whose symptoms include widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness of tendons and joints without detectable inflammation. Ninety percent of those diagnosed are plagued by undue fatigue. The DMV should add a stupidity disability placard for people who think we don't deserve a placard because we don't look disabled. Please check your ignorance at your car. What are you -- the parking gestapo! . . . Some people with multiple sclerosis may not be able to walk long distances but may look fine to a casual observer. The MS Society used to have a brochure called ``But You Look So Well'' to help people with multiple sclerosis deal with the unrealistic expectations of others who felt that if you look fine, you must be fine. . . .

I have rheumatoid arthritis and cannot tell you how many dirty looks I've gotten when people see me park in a disabled spot. They do not know me, they do not understand the severity of my disease. . . .

When you see my father get out of his vehicle in that handicapped spot it may not seem to you that he has had two heart transplants. It may not seem to you that he has spent most of the past 10 years in and out of hospitals and transplant clinics. Perhaps you caught him on a rare day without his portable oxygen tank. Please, mind your own business.

Kelly F., Judy Whittier, K.M., Susan Cooper and dozens more

A: Now, I like that advice.

Q: I have disabled plates. Does that mean I have to be behind the wheel to park in that space, or is it OK for me to be a passenger? My teenagers have to do almost all the driving for me now.

Alison Hyde
Palo Alto

A: It's OK for your teens to park your car.

Copyright © 2003, The Mercury News